Archive for March 14th, 2011

On days when I don’t necessarily know what I want to write about, I check out pages that feature “this day in history” columns. According to the History Channel, on March 14, 1967, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s body was moved to its current (and theoretically permanent) gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thinking back, I think that JFK’s grave was probably the first one I was consciously aware of. I was a lucky child in that I did not experience the deaths of any friends or close relatives that I was conscious of until late elementary school, and so the grave of a historical figure took the place of a more personal connection to cemeteries. In addition, the assassination of JFK was such a significant moment for my mother’s generation that I grew up knowing that that she was sitting in her junior high school classroom when the announcement of his death came over the loudspeaker. I don’t remember a time before I know that a president had been assassinated during my mother’s life time and that he rested under an eternal flame outside of Washington, D.C. Despite all of that, I have never visited JFK’s grave in person. I’ve taken only one actual trip to Arlington, and that was to view the Women in Military Service Memorial. But JFK’s burial in Arlington is part of the cultural milieu, something that I have known from before I could comprehend the significance and symbolism. Are there any other cemeteries or graves in American culture that are so famous? (Perhaps Grant’s tomb due to the old “who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” thing.)

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